Antarctic min/max sea ice maps, 2019-2020

Sea ice concentration in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica during the most recent summer minimum (February 2020) and winter maximum (September 2019). The gold line shows the median ice extent (the total area that is at least 15% ice covered) from 1981–2010.

Due to geography, Antarctic sea ice extents are larger than the Arctic’s in winter, and smaller in summer. Maps by, based on data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Because it forms at lower, warmer latitudes, less Antarctic sea ice survives the summer. On average, about 40 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s winter ice cover remains at the summer minimum, whereas in the Southern Ocean only about 15 percent does. Because so little Antarctic ice persists through the summer, the majority of Antarctica’s sea ice is only one winter old at most.

As a result, Antarctic sea ice is relatively thin, often 1 meter (about 3 feet) or less. (In the Arctic, multiyear ice that survives at least one summer is generally 3 to 4 meters thick, and even seasonal ice that formed since the previous summer can often reach about 2 meters in thickness.)

So overall, average Antarctic ice thickness is much lower than Arctic sea ice. However, snowfall often thickens Antarctic sea ice. The heavy snow burden can depress ice floes, and seawater can subsequently flood those floes.

Arctic and Antarctica are the biggest heaps of ice on Earth. They have been frozen since times immemorial and are believed to be a house to hundreds or even thousands of deadly, ancient bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites. These are not the general, common type of microbes that we have come across. In fact, we don’t even know what these are.

These can be as deadly and as ancient as the Meliola Anfracta Fungi. Or maybe, even more ancient and deadly than that. With the temperatures rising everyday, entire human civilization is under the radar of innumerable life-threatening diseases.

Everyone who has studied any branch of science to a level to be informed enough, knows that there are millions or even billions of bacterias, parasites and viruses buried under the glaciers for centuires. These are nothing like what we have known, studied and diagnosed to a point to be able to develop vaccines for them.

Covid-19 seems to be one such virus.

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